Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hard Hitting Questions for the Hard Hitting Johnny Boychuk

  Today I had the pleasure to meet/interview New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk, who is turning 33 tomorrow, was drafted 61st overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2002. He is now playing in his 7th full NHL season, having played for the Avalanche, Boston Bruins, and now the Islanders. He has 37 goals and 98 assists for 135 career NHL points. Boychuk, who is known for his big slap shot, won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011. In 2015, Boychuk signed a 7 year contract extension with the Islanders
      1. This season has been a tough one for the team, being last in the conference and Jack Capuano was just fired yesterday. How does it affect things in the locker room going forward?
  JB: I think it's a difficult transition but he was a good coach. We have a lot of guys who have to step up and to do their job and it will be a good test for everybody.  

     2. How do you think Doug Weight as head coach can help turn around the season? 
JB: It will be good, he used to be a player, and he knows the keys to either changing in game strategy or seeing what the other team is doing and can adapt well.  

3. Over your 3 years here in NY, do you feel more comfortable playing with a puck-moving defenseman in Nick Leddy, a traditional d-man like Travis Hamonic, another shot-blocking machine like Calvin de Haan, an all around guy like Thomas Hickey, or Dennis Seidenberg, whom you played with in Boston?
JB: I like playing with Nick [Leddy] and I also like playing with Thomas [Hickey]. I think with either one we do well together and complement each other. We kind of have a chemistry of knowing where to be and we talk a lot when we're out on the ice. So it's easy to play with them.         

     4. In your career, you’ve never scored double digit goals, but in your first 2 seasons with the Islanders, you have set career highs in both seasons with 9 goals. This year, you have 5 goals in half a season. Are you feeling a little more confident that this will finally be the year you score at least 10 goals?
JB: I think I can score 10 goals this year. It's not out of the question. It's about getting the right opportunities, getting your shots on the net and not getting them blocked. 

     5. There has been some young defenseman coming up in this Islanders system recently in Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech and others. Would you consider yourself a mentor to them? 

     JB: Yes, definitely. When I came into the league there were some older players that helped me along the way. It's always nice to help the younger guys when they come in because most of the time they are going to be nervous. Talking to them will make them feel comfortable and let them play their game.  
     6. The road to the NHL was a long one for you, signing your 1st one way deal about 7 years after you were drafted. How did you persevere to become a stable defenseman in this league?
JB: Getting to play in Boston was a key opportunity for me. I think just having fun and working hard was a big thing. I kept doing that and gave it my best and luckily I got to stay.

7. In your NHL career, you have 920 blocked shots. Do you ever get a little scared to block a shot? and what player would you least like to block a shot from?
JB: Yes, especially when it's going at you over a 100 miles per hour. You have to block the shot but you don't really want to because you know it's going to hurt. But that's your job and hopefully it's only going to hurt for a little. I'd probably least want to block Zdeno Chara's shot. I've blocked a few of his in practice [with the Bruins] and it's not really fun because they are going really fast. 

8. When you first played with the Colorado Avalanche, you played a few games as a forward. Do you think you could have made it as a forward in the NHL?

JB: No! (laughing) It was a fun experience and to get your first few games as a forward was definitely different.  

     9. You normally seem to play a physical style, but manage to stay out of the penalty box. Is it easy to play that kind of style and stay out of the box?
      JB:  Yes it is if you're smart about it, some guys aren't and end up in the penalty box. If you know how to play the right way you should be out of the penalty box more often than not.
10. Growing up, who was your favorite player?
 JB: Al MacInnis and Ray Bourque

11. Which city (besides Brooklyn) is your favorite to play in?
 JB: I like playing back home in Edmonton. I also enjoy playing in Boston, Montreal, and Nashville.
      12. When you won the cup in 2011, where did you take it?
JB: First, I took it to a children's hospital back home. Then, I took it to my Mom and Dad's house, and then to another place for people to take pictures with it.

13. Excluding this year, you’ve had 3 different home arenas in 3 years. (TD Garden, Nassau Coliseum, Barclays Center) is it difficult to keep making adjustments to home ice? 
JB: Sometimes, but you get used to playing in your home arena after a little while.

14. Before last year, the NHL changed from 4 on 4 OT to 3 on 3 OT. Which style do you like better?

JB: I don't play in OT (laughing) so it doesn't matter to me. 

      15. Over the years, the game has become more high-paced and focused on speed. Is it hard to keep up with this style of play?
JB: Sometimes it is, and sometimes it's not. You just have to adjust your style of play, depending on who you are playing against. Some teams are faster then others, and some teams are more hard hitting and physical so you just need to prepare and be ready for everything.
 16. Since your rookie season, do you think the game has changed? 
      JB: Yeah it has, quite a bit. Especially with the way you can hit people. There is a lot more emphasis on limiting head shots now because there have been a lot of concussions.

 17.  After signing a long term deal and buying a house here on Long Island, what do you and your family enjoy about the area?
JB: There's a lot of family oriented stuff around Long Island. Either from going to the beaches or going into the city, there is a lot of good things on Long Island. The school systems are really good too.   

Thank you to the New York Islanders and Johnny Boychuk for this awesome experience.



  1. Hey Carter,
    Great interview! It seems as if you spent a lot of time researching and formulating your questions. You touched on so many aspects of Johnny Boychuk's career, game and life. I imagine Mr. Boychuk was impressed as well.
    One question...wasn't yesterday a school day??? Better hope your teacher doesn't find out where you were!��
    Well done!
    Mr. Scheidt

  2. Very well done! I learned a few things about him :)


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